BIOMECHANICS OF ORIENTAL MARTIAL ART: WHY PRACTICING TAl CHI CHUAN HELPS TO IMPROVE THE HUMAN BALANCE CONTROL
Keywords: Tai Chi Chuan, balance control, gait pattern, plantar pressure, proprioception, center of gravity, EMG
AbstractFour studies were devoted to explore the mechanism of why practicing Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) can improve balance control especially for elderly people. In the first study, it showed that foot stepping patterns of TCC were better than those of walking in simulating the gait challenges that may be encountered in daily activities. The second study found that the characteristics of plantar pressures in TCC movements not only enhances muscle strength, but also improves the somatosensory input and feedback in the great toe area to assist in balance control. The third study found that the elderly people who regularly practiced TC not only showed better kinesthesia in ankle and knee joints than sedentary controls, but also their ankle kinesthesia were better than the elderly regular swimmers/runners. In the fourth study the continuous shifting of the center of gravity (CG) and a wide range of motion (ROM) of lower extremity joints were found. The continuous alteration of muscle loading and contraction types produced different levels of muscle activity -vigorous contraction, moderate tension, or relaxation. All findings supported that TCC movement provides training possibility for proprioception and neuromuscular control, which made TC exercise to confer particular benefits for postural control.